Scale 1 : 50, length 104 cm, width 47 cm, height 96 cm
The WAPEN VON HAMBURG historical background
In the 17th century the German Empire was a rather loose federation that had only limited naval power. It could not give its trading vessels a protection by an organized escort system. Especially the Mediterranean routes were endangered by corsairs of the Barbary States of North Africa, who were masters in using their fast and light chebecs.
In the years 1662 - 1667 the City of Hamburg lost altogether 13 trading vessels to pirates, and the shipping of the city was nearly disrupted. In 1667 the citizenry decided to build two strong warships as “convoy ships”. They were the Leopoldus Primus and the WAPEN VON HAMBURG.
The Leopoldus Primus undertook 33 long journeys, until she was broken up in 1705.
The WAPEN VON HAMBURG was built in the Deichtor shipyard in Hamburg by a Dutch shipbuilding master. The construction work started in spring of 1667 when the keel was laid down. The wood work was finished in 1668. The armaments were installed, and the ship took up service in 1669.
The sculpture work was done under the guidance of master carver Christian Precht.
From 1669 the ship served as an escort vessel on voyages to Malaga, Cadiz, Lisbon and north till Spitsbergen. In October 1683, on a trip to Cadiz, suddenly a fire started in the forecastle and rapidly spread throughout the vessel. The fire eventually reached the gunpowder depot and caused a terrible explosion that destroyed the ship. Admiral Berent Jakobsen Karpfanger, 42 of 170 crew members, and 22 of 50 soldiers lost their lives.
The body of the admiral was buried with great ceremony in the foreigners' cemetery on the seafront of Puntales, Cadiz. King Charles II of Spain erected a monument on the tomb to honour the admiral. It stood there for 125 years, until in 1808 the French removed the cemetery in order to enlarge the port fortification.
To replace the lost convoy ship a new Wapen von Hamburg was built in 1686 and 1687, which was used until 1719.
On 12 November 1720 a third ship of this name was launched, the Wapen von Hamburg (III). A contemporary dockyard model of this vessel in 1 : 16 scale still exists. It is displayed in the Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte.
Details on history of the three ships, plans and photographs of the dockyard model are in a book by Heinrich Reincke und Bernhard Schulze, "Das Hamburgische Convoyschiff Wapen von Hamburg III", Arbeitskreis Historischer Schiffbau e.V., Cologne and Museum fuer Hamburgische Geschichte, ISBN 3-931874-00-2, Weyers Druck, Brilon 1998.
On this webpage today's common German way of spelling “Wappen von Hamburg” is used for the designation of the files, so that the search engines may find this page more easily. However, the historically correct name of the ship is “Wapen von Hamburg”, in the way of writing at that time.
The WAPEN VON HAMBURG ship model, photos, description and dimensions
This model of the WAPEN VON HAMBURG is 1 : 50 scale. Length is 104 cm, width 47 cm, height 96 cm.
The ship model is not glued to the stand and can be taken out. However, two pins in the keel keep it from shifting. The gangway running from the quarter-deck to the forecastle can be removed to allow for a clear view of the boat and the cannon.
This excellently built model of the WAPEN VON HAMBURG is a very fine piece of work. In many details the art of shipbuilding, rigging and weaponry of that time is shown. It is an impressive ship model that was made (with some interruptions) in 8000 work hours over 13 years.